#3 Montana FCS Football 2022 Preview

Montana Grizzlies
Overall Rank: #3
#1 Big Sky
 Montana Logo
Montana started the 2021 season with a big win over Washington. The season kept going well from there with just a couple losses against Eastern Washington and Sacramento State along the way. Montana earned the sixth seed in the playoffs and got their revenge against EWU in the second round. In the quarterfinals though, they fell to 28-6 at James Madison.
2021 Record: 10-3, 6-2
2021 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Bobby Hauck (108-29 at Montana, 123-78 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Timm Rosenbach
Defensive Coordinator: Kent Baer
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Xavier Harris, RB, 666 yards
Passing: Kris Brown, QB, 1,029 yards
Receiving: Mitch Roberts, WR, 683 yards
Tackles: Robby Hauck, S, 128
Sacks: Patrick O’Connell, LB, 14.0 sacks
Interceptions: Justin Ford, CB, 9
Other Key Returnees: RB Junior Bergen, TE Cole Grossman, WR Keelan White, WR Ryan Simpson, OL Hunter Mayginnes, LB Marcus Welnel, S Garrett Graves, DT Alex Gubner, S Nash Fouch, DE Jacob McGourin
Key Losses: QB Cam Humphrey, WR Samuel Akem, OL Conlan Beaver, LB Jace Lewis, CB Omar Hicks Onu, DE Justin Belknap
With quarterback Cam Humphrey gone, Kris Brown should be next in line. As a redshirt freshman in 2021, he threw for 1,029 yards and three touchdowns as Humphrey’s backup. He will get competition from transfer Lucas Johnson who made nine starts at San Diego State. If the quarterback situation works out, this will be a great Montana team. Losing wide receiver Samuel Akem hurts, but Mitch Roberts, Keelan White and Ryan Simpson are more than capable of picking up the slack. Xavier Harris and Junior Bergen should again provide a solid one-two punch at running back.
Montana was one of the best teams in the FCS defending the run. With a bulk of the unit returning, the story should be more of the same in 2022. Linebacker Patrick O’Connell is the one who spends the most time in the backfield, recording 14.0 sacks a year ago. Fellow linebacker Marcus Welnel added 8.0 sacks. With Alex Gubner and Jacob McGourin anchoring the line, Montana’s front seven could be among the best in the FCS. The secondary has been a bit more hit or miss. Safety Robby Hauck comes up and helps out against the run effectively and led the Grizzlies with 128 tackles. Justin Ford intercepted an amazing nine passes and end the season with a total of 20 passes defended. However, the pass defense as a whole was not very good by the numbers. That happens in the Big Sky, but they will need to rank better than ninth in the Big Sky in pass defense if they want to win a conference title.
The Bottom Line:
For many, the success of Montana’s 2022 conference season will come down to two games. The first is on October 22nd when the Grizzlies head to Sacramento State. The Hornets have gotten the best of Montana recently. The next is, of course, the season finale at Montana State. Montana has the talent to reach the playoffs even without winning those two games, but the conference title will likely be decided by those two games.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 138.0 (70th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 223.2 (48, 7)
Total Offense: 361.2 (63, 8)
Scoring Offense: 29.6 (39, 4)
Rushing Defense: 84.3 (3, 1)
Pass Defense: 246.4 (96, 9)
Total Defense: 330.7 (24, 4)
Scoring Defense: 16.3 (8, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.69 (14, 3)
Sacks: 3.38 (5, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.54 (88, 11)